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Berryhill ventures into Twilight Zone of California politics
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Bill Berryhill has got it right.

There is more to gain by trying to strike a compromise than everybody on the bridge of the SS California Titanic standing around with their arms crossed having a stare down contest while the state's financial ship roars full speed ahead into the $28.8 billion deficit iceberg.

The Ceres Republican has proven himself a rarity in Sacramento. He's not part of the robotic Democrats who believe tax increases alone and not trimming government and reforming regulations is the answer nor is he in full allegiance with Republicans who view taxes as the ultimate evil.

Berryhill is one of three Republicans in the California Legislature who have not signed a no-tax pledge. Taxes are what keeps California on the move from freeway construction and water projects to universities of higher learning to law enforcement. The real question is how the taxes are assessed, collected and used.

Berryhill isn't talking much publically about budget specifics. You wouldn't either given the rabid response it would invoke by organized groups that reside in a reality vacuum. The world doesn't operate in absolutes but both sides of the budget debate so far have acted as if it does.

Berryhill has indicated he is open to budget, pension and regulatory reforms. He is not sold on Brown's budget proposal nor does he believe just saying no to taxes will resolve much of anything.

What a concept - a politician who actually wants to engage in give and take in a bid to come up with something better for California.

It would involve the Democrats giving up ground as well as the Republicans.

It is clear we need pension, budget and regulatory reforms. At the same time something needs to be done to curtail spending and keep the state afloat before we slam into the deficit iceberg and everyone goes into panic mode trying to avoid their particular special interest in the state budget from being taken under when the deficit slices into business-as-usual and the state starts taking on water.

Berryhill must realize the days of smoke, mirrors, and kicking the can down the road are over. He also is astute enough not to believe simply imposing a combination of cuts and extending temporary taxes will do much good to solve California's long-term financial ailments.

In a sense, it is obstructionist to put Brown's tax extensions on the ballot as much as it is to block that from happening.

It would give Californians only one choice to make it clear what they are willing to endure.

People aren't stupid.

What would have served everyone better was to have had at least dueling ballot propositions that offer different ways of climbing out of the mess we've dug ourselves into.

The Republicans should have said something along the lines, "OK, we're agreeing to put the tax extensions on the ballot only if the ballot is constructed so people have three choices. They could either give thumbs up to the governor's plan or another plan that details specific cuts and reforms. The third option would be to vote both down."

Continuing as we are by extending the taxes with $12 billion or so of cuts isn't going to work for very long nor will plunging the state into a deep financial tailspin by not letting voters decide whether they'd like to extend taxes.

There was a time when men of significantly different view of the world disagreed strenuously but came together when needed to keep America moving forward. Barry Goldwater and Hubert Humphrey had diametrically opposing views of government but when push came to shove they'd set-aside differences to make things work.

Such an approach also opens the door to compromises that can be better than the absolute positions taken by separate groups.

But then again that may be asking too much of the California Legislature that long ago left behind it tradition of having two chambers that had its members openly engaged in give and take discussions instead of abdicating that process in favor of talking points on TV, letting their staff do the deal cutting, and posturing to one's "core constituency."

Perhaps that is why Berryhill finds himself in the Twilight Zone of California politics trying to find a middle ground.

Berryhill's district has a strong mix of politics and philosophical persuasions.

Hopefully, the crossover primaries will dilute the stranglehold the left has on the Democrats and the right on the Republicans and instead elect candidates who put the good of all of California and its future above partisan politics.